The Moscow Cipher by Scott Mariani

Avon | 2018 (31 May) | 399p | Review copy | Buy the book

When twelve-year-old Valentina disappears when visiting her father Yuri in Moscow, it’s assumed that he has stolen her away. Yuri’s divorce from Valentina’s mother was acrimonious to say the least and his ex-wife has been determined to stop these flying visits from France to Russia. It’s clear that Yuri decided to take matters into his own hands.

Valentina’s great uncle is Auguste Kaprisky, a billionaire who’s used to getting his own way but who has worked with Ben Hope before. Nobody can recover kidnapped victims as well as Ben Hope. The fee is enormous and it looks straightforward, a simple case of parent abduction, but, when Ben arrives in Moscow on the trail of Yuri, it soon becomes clear that this case will be anything but straightforward. It seems that Yuri used to be a spy, a decoder of ciphers, and he’s just deciphered one code too many. The secret message’s contents are enough to get him killed. Yuri and Valentina are on the run for their lives. Ben Hope, though, is not a man who runs from anyone.

The Moscow Cipher is the seventeenth novel in Scott Mariani’s utterly superbly fantastic Ben Hope series. The good news is that if you haven’t read any of these books yet, then you’d be safe to read The Moscow Cipher. It stands alone perfectly, making few references to events in other books and its central mystery is both self-contained and the focus. Often in these thrillers we get caught up in Ben’s explosive private life and he must fight to save the life of someone he loves. There is none of that here. Instead, we get a great story which Ben pursues through these pages with all of the ingenuity, dedication, fire power and energy that we’re used to.

But just because Ben has less personal stake in this case, it doesn’t mean that it’s an easy one. Far from it. I think Ben would agree that there are times here when he comes closer to death than ever before. Ben is increasingly aware of his mortality. Ben might be super but he isn’t a superhero. He bleeds like everyone else. I wish he were more careful but how I love the thrills and tension, and all of the things that make this wonderful figure Ben Hope.

As you can see from the list of other reviews below, I am a huge fan of this series (I probably rave about it more than any other) and I’ve been reading it for far longer than I’ve been reviewing. In my opinion, it’s the best thriller series out there and when one arrives I drop everything else I’m reading. I did just that with The Moscow Cipher and read it in one glorious (actually it was raining) day. Scott Mariani is a master of writing thrillers. Not only has he created a character that I absolutely adore, but he puts Ben in such incredible situations, sometimes involving archaeological mysteries, sometimes involving mad villains, and they’re always completely engrossing.

I loved The Moscow Cipher. It is so exciting, brilliantly written and plotted, with such a great Russian setting and some intriguing characters (I was interested in everybody in this book) and Ben Hope is as magnificent as ever. If you haven’t read this series before, I urge you to dive in. If you have then you’ll be as keen as I was to read this latest adventure. And the good news is the trend of having two a year continues in 2018. The Rebel’s Revenge will be published in November. Hooray! Long may Ben Hope reign!

Other reviews
Ben Hope 7: The Sacred Sword
Ben Hope 8: The Armada Legacy
Ben Hope 9: The Nemesis Program
Ben Hope 10: The Forgotten Holocaust
Ben Hope 11: The Martyr’s Curse
Ben Hope 12: The Cassandra Sanction
Ben Hope 13: Star of Africa
Ben Hope 14: The Devil’s Kingdom
Ben Hope 15: The Babylon Idol
Ben Hope 16: The Bach Manuscript

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